Title: The Turnaway Girls
Author: Hayley Chewins
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Older children/middle grade fiction, Fantasy
Book format: Paperback
Description: In Blightsend everyone knows their place. Music belongs to the Masters – and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea.
Delphernia Undersea is a turnaway girl. She has spent her whole life in the cloister, hidden from sea and sky, expected to silently turn music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer and she woud rather sing than stay silent. So when she has the chance to leave the cloister, she takes it. But the outside world is not how Delphernia imagined – and she soon discovers it will take courage to truly change her fate.
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: This is a very different book, a good story but with an interesting way of telling it. ‘The Turnaway Girls’ has a beautiful cover with golden shiny parts throughout. Delphernia is a turnaway girl, one of many who’s job it is to listen to music and then turn it into strands of gold. Making shimmer, it’s called, but Delphernia can’t make shimmer, she would rather sing, but singing is forbidden and if Delphernia sings she might lose her life.
The story begins in a very poetic way. I have to be honest in saying that it took me a bit of time to get used to the way the author wrote the story. Although it is easy to read, the writing feels poetic, and there are a lot of descriptions of things in metaphors and similies (describing how something is like something). I only realised after a while of reading that all these descriptions, while adding to the atmosphere, did cause the story to be less detailed than I’d hoped. However after a while of reading this book I really got into it and I just couldn’t put it down as I wanted to see what would happen to all the characters.
The general story is actually very good. Delphernia has a chance of leaving the cloister and experiences the outside world, where things aren’t as simple as they first seem. There she meets several other characters and the story plays out to have a very satisfying ending. I don’t want to give it away, but it is a good end to the tale, although I do feel that the book could have been made longer. The story just felt too rushed. Normally I would say that authors sometimes overly describe things in books and that parts of it should be cut out to shorten the tales, but with this particular story, I wanted there to be more and I think that, despite the beautiful imagery, it just didn’t have as much of a substancial story as it could have had.
Delphernia’s character is one I liked, I could relate to her feeling isolated and confused over some things, but when I later found out that her character is supposed to be twelve years old I was surprised as she comes across as much younger. The overall story of what happens to her and the other chracters was good, but it really could have done with more description or action. While I like the beautiful way the author writes (though it took me time to get used to it), I do think that the story could have done with more character development. We don’t see some characters like Bly for some time and then suddenly there’s action toward the end that could have involved more about him, we could have gotten to know him better or seem more of the relationshiip between Bly and Delphernia, for example. And Linna’s situation with family make me want to see something more at the end, to see if there’s a resolution to that side-story.
I do like this book and the story does feel very magical. It’s a beautiful fantast and I could really see this expanding into a wonderful and maybe darker tale, even in film, but I think the story is a bit short and I would love to see more about the characters and what happens to them. But overall a good story and worth reading for how magical and unique it is.
Do you like fantasy stories? What genres do you like to read? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂